Three Chinese study abroad students in Los Angeles are facing sentences of up to 13 years in prison after allegedly kidnapping and abusing a classmate in March last year.
After months of negotiations, the defendants’ lawyers reached a plea agreement this week with prosecutors in Los Angeles under which high school students Zhai Yunyao, Yang Yuhai, and Zhang Xinlei, will face 13, 10 and 6 years in prison respectively.
The agreement means that the defendants, who are now 19, will not face a jury trial and are not contesting the charges of kidnapping and assault, the Los Angeles Times reported. A previous charge of torture, which carries a life sentence, was dropped by the Los Angeles District Attorney.
After serving the sentences, they will be expelled from the U.S. and repatriated to China. None of them will be able to re-enter the U.S., according to the agreement cited by uschinapress.com.
The official sentence will be announced at a Los Angeles court on February 17.
The charges stem from an assault on a student involving 10 suspects. Of the six arrested, three were minors. The remaining suspects are still at large. The punishment for the three minors have not been disclosed.
On March 30, 2015, a group of students led by Zhai abducted Liu Yiran — also a Chinese study abroad student — for more than five hours, during which, they beat and abused her.
According to Liu’s testimony, she was slapped, stripped naked, and burned with cigarettes. The suspects also cut her hair and forced her to eat it.
In an online survey where 17,780 Chinese internet users, more than 72 percent thought the abusers “deserve the punishments”, while 24 percent agreed that “the sentences are light and they should be jailed for life.” Only 1 percent of the respondents said the punishments were “too severe.”
Incidents of bullying and violence among teens have made headlines in China in recent years.
In 2014, a video showed a boy in Beijing being kicked for nearly eight minutes. It left him unconscious and eventually in coma. None of the perpetrators were punished, as they were minors.
In another incident, an 11-year-old girl was beaten by six other girls in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region last June. Police warned the suspects, who were under 14 years old, and ordered their parents to strengthen education and discipline.
According to a 2010 survey by the China Youth Research Center, 87 percent of the 5,000 teen respondents across 10 Chinese provinces said they’ve been bullied to different extents.
An additional 32.5 percent said they were occasionally bullied, while 49 percent said they have been violent with other students.
Story by CCTV News